I Thessalonians 5:21
“Test all things; hold fast what is good”
I John 4:1
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
We are living in what Paul called perilous times, (2 Timothy 3:1). In this time we Evangelical Christians are running tour Churches for cover. We are also seeking deeper religious experiences to help slow the tide of worldly influences that we face daily. In our ever widening search we may have left ourselves open to being deceived by our quest for a greater experience with God. The hungry Christian may be the one most vulnerable to this attack as be: more than the lukewarm Christian, seeks the best things for his relationship. Any new teaching that boast that as its claim, or any new manifestation of the gifts that promises a greater dimension to his experience he wants. In his quest to raise himself past religious mediocrity, he may find refuge in some book or teaching presented by an attractive, well know, speaker or author and assume that it is good based either on his experience in the new teaching or upon the reputation of the one who offers it. Though our hunger is good,
there needs to be a way that we can check these new things in our lives to see that they are indeed from God. A.W. Tozer, in his book; Man: The Dwelling Place of God, has a seven fold test to determine whether our spiritual experiences and religious growth is from God. What follows is adapted from his book:
Simply put, we need to ask of this new habit, view of truth, doctrine or spiritual experience these seven questions. How has it affected my attitude toward my relationship to God, Jesus, the Bible, self, other Christians, the world, and sin?
1. The first test is how it affects my relationship, concept, and attitude towards God. Any doctrine or experience that serves to magnify Him is likely to come from Him. Thus anything that makes Him less wonderful is not from Him. This is not to discount the experience, but rather to qualify it. We may have religious emotions or be moved by something that causes joyous feeling which can be genuine. But this doesn’t guarantee that what we experienced is from God. The big test is, what has this done to my relationship to God the Father or our Lord Jesus? If this new view of truth, or new encounter has made me love Him more, caused God to be further magnified, purified my concept of His nature and character as to make Him even more wonderful then before; then I can conclude that I have not wandered off into a path of error.
2. The next test it, how has this experience affected my attitude toward Jesus Christ? Many today are suffering from spiritual boredom.
Boredom can be defined as trying to maintain interest in something that holds no interest for us. So often we seek new ways to get existed about our faith, most are centered around entertainment. The clearest way to determine whether or not it is edifying is to ask what or who is at the center of the experience. If it is anything other than Jesus, or makes Him less important, then it must be rejected. Much of what is done in Christ’s name is false to Christ. Though Jesus may be mentioned from time to time He is not the center of the experience, He is just put in to give it credibility. On the other hand if the new experience makes Jesus indispensable and takes our interest off of our feelings and places it on Christ then we can be sure we are on the right tract.
2. Another test of the soundness of my experience is, how does it affect my attitude towards His word? Does this new view come from the Bible or was it a result of something outside of His word? Whatever originates outside of scripture should be for that very reason suspect until it can be found in harmony with the whole council of the word of God. Scripture interprets our experiences, it must never be the other way. No matter how high the emotional content, if it is outside the holy scriptures it can never be from God. Scripture may not always be clear, and sincere men may have differences of opinion but the proof and love for the scriptures will be sought after. Any experience that diminishes our love and reliance upon His word is not from God. Anything that deepens our love for God will deepen our love for the Bible.